Ex-Director Of Hoboken Parking Utility Gets 7 Years For Role In Meter Theft Scheme

John P. Corea (Photo courtesy of NJ Attorney General's Office)

TRENTON – John P. Corea, the former director of the Hoboken Parking Utility, was sentenced to state prison today for his role in the theft of $600,000 by a Toms River contractor whose company was hired by the City of Hoboken to collect coins from city parking meters, Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced. The contractor previously pleaded guilty.

Corea, 48, of Hoboken, was sentenced to seven years in state prison, including three years of parole ineligibility, by Superior Court Judge Francis R. Hodgson Jr. in Ocean County. He was ordered to pay $300,000 in restitution to the City of Hoboken and will be permanently barred from public employment in New Jersey. Corea pleaded guilty on Dec. 16, 2011 to a second-degree charge of official misconduct, which was contained in a 2009 state grand jury indictment. The indictment stemmed from an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice and the New Jersey State Police.

“Government officials have a duty to act with complete honesty, integrity and care in dealing with public funds, but Corea corruptly betrayed that duty and the public’s trust, permitting a crooked contractor to literally make off with bags of cash belonging to the City of Hoboken,” said Chiesa. “This lengthy prison sentence reflects a policy of zero tolerance when it comes to public officials who abuse their positions and break the law in New Jersey.”

“This was a very costly breach of public trust,” said Stephen J. Taylor, Director of the Division of Criminal Justice. “The Division of Criminal Justice will continue to work with the State Police and other agencies to expose and convict those who engage in official misconduct.”

Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey J. Manis prosecuted the case and handled the sentencing for the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau.

In pleading guilty, Corea admitted, among other things, that as director of the Hoboken Parking Utility, he steered three separate no-bid contracts to United Textile Fabricators to collect, count and manage the coins from the city’s parking meters. He admitted that he made false statements to the city council about the qualifications and experience of the company, which is a coin-operated arcade game manufacturer. He further admitted that he came to believe that United Textile and its owner, Brian A. Petaccio, 52, of Toms River, had stolen a substantial amount of the city’s parking revenues, but did not take any steps to stop the thefts or notify the city.

Petaccio pleaded guilty on Sept. 30, 2009 to an accusation charging him with second-degree theft by unlawful taking for stealing more than $1.1 million in coins from Hoboken’s parking meters between June 2005 and April 2008. He faces up to seven years in prison under his plea agreement and also must pay $300,000 in restitution to the City of Hoboken. After an audit in 2007 uncovered parking revenue shortfalls, Petaccio and his company returned approximately $575,000 to the city. However, Petaccio admitted, in pleading guilty, that he diverted an additional $600,000 that was not reported to the city. His sentencing is scheduled for April 20.

The investigation was conducted by Detective Sgt. Peter Layng of the State Police Official Corruption Bureau North Unit, Sgt. Lisa Shea of the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau, Deputy Attorney General Manis, Deputy Attorney General Perry Primavera and Administrative Analyst Kathleen Ratliff.

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